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Blue Bottle Coffee Says Lack of Coronavirus Data Spurred US-Wide Closure

Also: A grocery store bomb threat, and more news to start your day

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Blue Bottle
All of Blue Bottle’s cafes across the U.S. have been temporarily closed
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Bay Area-originating Blue Bottle Coffee says that it temporarily closed in the U.S. — but remains open in South Korea and Japan — due to each country’s transmission rate data.

In the flurry of restaurant closures prior to the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order, it’s reasonable to have missed that Blue Bottle Coffee, a Nestlé-owned global chain that began as a humble Oakland roastery, announced that all its cafes across the U.S. had temporarily shut their doors.

“While we wish we could remain open to offer you a safe haven in these uncertain times,” CEO Bryan Meehan wrote, “we simply do not have the benefit of enough information to ensure our public spaces are safe.” While other chains remain open, sometimes to employee dismay, Blue Bottle’s US doors are still shut, even for takeout and delivery.

However, its locations in South Korea and Japan are still open. That’s because, COO Karl Strovink says via tweet, “In the US, we have inadequate information on the number or location of infected as well as transmission rates. In Korea, testing and data far exceed US rate to-date; In Japan, medical care and tests are more affordable and accessible than in the US.”

According to Meehan, the company will “reevaluate these cafe closures in two weeks and will only reopen when we feel it is safe to do so. All our staff, including baristas, will be paid for their scheduled hours,” he says, and “longer term, we are also thinking creatively about new ways to serve our guests with care, to meet the challenge of these unpredictable times.”

And in other news...

  • Sunset magazine, which for over 120 years has chronicled the West Coast’s food and lifestyle scene, put its staff on unpaid leave this week. Its future remains uncertain. [SF Chronicle]
  • Mission District pub Monk’s Kettle is dropping takeout and delivery prices for folks who order ahead or via its pickup window. [Mission Local]
  • In other deals, Noe Valley’s Bistro SF Grill is serving $5.50 boxed meals, cash only. [SF Gate]
  • Whether restaurant industry workers are still showing up to work or have been laid off, no one knows what could happen next. [Eater National]
  • As if things weren’t stressful enough, someone called a bomb threat into an East Bay grocery Wednesday. The store was evacuated for 4.5 hours while explosive-sniffing dogs confirmed that the whole thing was bunk. [East Bay Times]
  • Locanda, the nearly nine-year-old Mission District Roman restaurant from the Delfina crew, might close for good in the wake of the current shelter-in-place order. “We’re trying to get an SBA loan so we can stay open or re-open,” co-owner Annie Stoll says. “We can’t re-open if we don’t have funding.” The restaurant group’s Pizzeria Delfina locations are still open for takeout and delivery. [SF Gate]
  • The Ferry Building Farmers Market isn’t the only one that’s attracting shoppers, as folks headed to (with reasonable social distance, don’t trip, Jake Tapper) U.N. Plaza’s Heart of the City market on Wednesday. [NBC Bay Area]
  • Former Eater SF editor Caleb Pershan writes that restaurants will need “rent abatement, tax deferrals, and immediate unemployment benefits” to survive the current crisis. [Eater National]
  • Gillian Fitzgerald, a co-owner of new Mission Irish bar Casements, says that social distancing is hard when you’re trying to comfort folks who are sad or struggling. “It’s a weird time, a really weird time,” she says. “I think this is a pivotal moment for society to understand that community is so important, and it’s really hard to lock yourself away and not touch people.” [SF Chronicle]
  • Summertime food, wine, and music fest BottleRock Napa Valley has been postponed until October. [KPIX]
  • Nonprofits and other grassroots organizations nationwide are working to help those affected by COVID-19. Here’s a list of relief funds focused on the restaurant industry. [Eater National]